Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole is a Southern favorite and this version has a few secret ingredients that make it the best! It's perfect for a potluck gathering or new parents and it's freezer friendly!
Have you ever eaten Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole? It's just an old-fashioned, simple chicken casserole that shows up at most church potlucks or funeral gatherings here in the South. It's the perfect way to use Easy Shredded Crockpot Chicken.
This version is extra tasty because I add crispy fried onions to the topping and a little grated cheese and a splash of Worcestershire to the chicken mixture. My grandchildren love it! These additions are totally optional and the recipe is great without them, but our family likes a little extra flavor.
Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole is comfort food at its best—easy to prepare, easy to transport, can be made ahead, and is great for children or adults. It's also delicious!
- Cooked chicken
- Sour cream
- Cream of chicken or Cream of celery soup
- Grated Cheddar or Parmesan cheese (optional)
- Worcestershire sauce (optional)
- Crispy fried onions like these (optional)
- Ritz crackers
- Poppy seeds (also optional!)
How to Make Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole
- Preheat oven to 350 and lightly grease a 9 x 13 casserole dish.
- In a large bowl, stir together your cooked chicken, sour cream, soup, grated cheese, and a splash or two of Worcestershire sauce.
- In another bowl, mix cracker crumbs, poppy seeds, crispy fried onions, and butter together.
- Spread the chicken mixture evenly into your prepared casserole dish.
- Sprinkle the cracker crumb mixture over the chicken.
- Bake until bubbly and crackers are browned.
- Use a rotisserie chicken if in a hurry. This is almost always what I use because I love the flavor.
- Feel free to omit the poppy seeds if someone is picky! (Yes, that does indeed make it Seedless Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole. But you know there's always one: "Mommy, what are those black things on my chicken? I'm not eating that!"
Check this out: if you're feeling ambitious, here's a tutorial for making Homemade Ritz Crackers!
Freezing and Make Ahead Tips
To make ahead:
- Mix up the chicken mixture and place in the dish, then place the cracker mixture in an airtight container. Cover the chicken and store in the refrigerator for 1-2 days. (You can even wait and mix up the cracker mixture just before baking.)
- Remove dish from refrigerator thirty minutes before baking. Then place the cracker mixture on the chicken and bake as directed.
It's best if you don't put the cracker mixture on before freezing. Just make up the chicken mixture and freeze, then add the cracker mixture after you thaw and before baking.
However, when I'm taking a casserole to someone as a gift, I want it to be as easy as possible for them. So I have frozen this casserole with the cracker mixture already placed and it turned out fine.
When I'm taking a casserole as a gift, I always freeze it in these handy freezer containers. I buy them in bulk because they make it so much easier to store and freeze any type of casserole. And your recipients can thaw one or two containers, depending on how many servings they need.
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Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole
- 4 cups chopped or shredded cooked chicken
- 2 cups sour cream
- 1 can cream of celery or cream of chicken soup
- 2 cups Ritz cracker crumbs
- 1 tablespoon poppy seeds (optional)
- 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
- ½ cup crispy fried onions
- 1 cup grated Cheddar or Parmesan cheese
- Couple of splashes of Worcestershire sauce
- Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease a 9 x 13 casserole dish.
- Mix chicken, sour cream, and soup together in a large bowl. Add Worcestershire and grated cheese if using.
- Mix cracker crumbs, poppy seeds and butter together. Include fried onions if using.
- Spread chicken mixture into prepared casserole dish.
- Sprinkle cracker crumbs over the chicken.
- Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes, until bubbly and crackers are browned.
Update Notes: This post was originally published September 27, 2014, and on April 15, 2020, was updated with one or more of the following: step-by-step photos, video, updated recipe, new tips.